Sir Hilary on the right track
Sun, October 28, 2012 - 12:01 AM
The Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies has already made a sterling name for itself in the energized policy of bringing higher education within the reach of the masses for the better enrichment of Barbadian society.
The effort has something of a bipartisan flavour, because all political parties in this country support the idea of public funding for the campus, even in the enduring financial stringent circumstances the society finds itself.
Strategic measures aimed at keeping the institution well and truly afloat, while fine-tuning expenditures, have therefore been the order of the day, with educational opportunities yet remaining available to the young and not so young of this nation, together with their counterparts from foreign places.
Education at the Cave Hill Campus therefore has a manifold impact on Barbadian society, for its capacity to earn foreign exchange from visiting students is now adjuncted to the core purpose of providing tertiary level learning and serious research opportunities for our youth.
In the end, both the educational benefits and the foreign exchange earnings will enure to the direct good of the community, which reality we trust will strike the consciousness of Barbadians who are inclined to see the campus as the ivory tower on the Hill.
We are pleased to learn that the campus’ effort to develop its research output has continued apace in the face of the realization its funding will not come from Government, and that the campus has developed its own and is attracting other financing elsewhere.
International funding agencies are one such source, but its competitive nature demands much energy and commitment in project writing designed to convince donors that applications are meritorious and funds granted will be well spent. And, it is a sign of growing maturity that our Cave Hill Campus has developed the capacity to compete for such funding.
The other two areas of funding demonstrate a capacity for self-help that deserves our applause. The development of taught Master’s degrees has added to the profile of the campus, while acting as a catalyst of sorts for international students who may find it appropriate to study for their postgraduate degrees here. Fees earned from these degrees can yield revenue for research for doctoral studies.
Internationalizing the campus by offering places for postgraduate work, and by collaborating with other professors and students elsewhere doing similar research, will draw more foreign students here, thereby adding to revenues and prestige at the same time.
The measures adopted by Cave Hill speak to a clear understanding of the role of a university campus, which per force must include a research component as part of the matrix of activities taking place there.
Instruction alone will not cut it; certainly not at this time. Initially instruction only may have been the critical need of our society, but in today’s highly competitive world, research of a high order will distinguish a university campus from its peers, and some governments elsewhere measure the research output when awarding funding.
Professor Sir Hilary Beckles and his colleagues are on the right track, and if their campus has a larger number of students reading for doctorates than others, it is probably because they have recognized the need for greater output of applied research; and have found three avenues for mitigating the impact of the recession on that vital area of the campus’ mandate.
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